Paul Healy’s Week

Thursday

So it turns out there are two types of people in the world (the evidence is overwhelming): people who acknowledge it when you ‘give way’ to them on the road – and people who don’t (commenting for a friend).

 

Friday

‘Britain’s Greatest Comedian’ (regularly repeated on the Gold channel) often passes a few enjoyable minutes, even if – in the nature of such largely pointless exercises – some of the choices are contentious. The programme features a ‘jury’ of comedy experts selecting their top 30 British comedians from a shortlist based on a public vote. My issue: Why is the great Dave Allen (born in Dublin) included in this (British) list? That’s not funny…

 

Saturday

My thoughts on The One That Got Away (Croke Park today) are on page 53. Parental guidance not quite needed…

 

Sunday

I love books…admire them, hoard them, line them up for a holiday break when a reading spree becomes possible. Sorting through a few at home the other day, I noted autobiographies which are on my reading list (e.g. comedian Bob Mortimer’s, also Lara Marlowe’s book on her life with the late Robert Fisk) and then just happened to come across an old copy of The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank’s account of being in hiding during the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands.

Now, decades on from when I read it first, I’ve started to re-read that book this week. And it’s dawned on me that it’s eighty years ago this month since Anne – then aged thirteen – began her diary. It’s a stunning and deeply poignant book, the author a gifted writer. If you haven’t read it yet, you really should.

 

Monday

On social media, they’re getting worked up over a storm in a teacup today, after UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss referred to Micheál Martin as the “Tea Sock”. Is that what you call putting your foot in it?

 

Tuesday

 

Erratic Ireland are in Nations League action against Ukraine tonight, our lads in an intriguing orange kit, which I haven’t really noticed before (apparently it’s our new away strip, launched last November). I’m certainly not sure about it, and almost feel a touch nostalgic for the days of black and white TV…

Then again, at least this orange outfit reminds me of great Dutch teams of the past. I can see Neeskens, Gullit, and the peerless Johan Cruyff in the flashback file in my mind. Ireland’s Nathan Collins may have been similarly inspired this evening, as he scored a solo goal which any Dutch master of the past would have been proud of. Anyways, we got a very respectable 1-1 draw. Come on your boys in…green/orange.

 

All week

Many readers, whether they’re into sport or not, will have watched open-mouthed as a bitter civil war erupted in the extremely lucrative world of professional golf over the past week. LIV Golf, a new Saudi Arabia-backed series, set up in opposition to the established tours, swooped into the cosy golfing world and signed up a number of leading players. Incredible sums of money are on offer to lure these stars into the controversial embrace of the Saudis. The suitably shaken golf establishment (basically the PGA Tour in America) responded by banning the defectors from its weekly tournaments.

At the heart of the outcry over the breakaway move is the narrative that LIV Golf is a classic (and sinister) example of sportswashing – with the mega-backers of the new tour accused of using sport to cover up Saudi Arabia’s horrific human rights record. All week, the golfing world as we know it has been at war with the golfing world as it may become.

The LIV series has to date attracted a few superstars, and a few has-beens too, most of whom spectacularly failed to credibly address those awkward questions about their association with a disgraced regime (Graeme McDowell, in particular, did himself no favours). Mind you, there are those who will say that sportstars shouldn’t have to account for the human rights record of any given nation. And it does seem clear that the golfing rebels have been subjected to much more criticism and scrutiny than players and clubs in other sports (Newcastle United an example) previously targeted for investment by the Saudis.

Meanwhile, the sums of money being offered by LIV are quite obscene, but it is hardly surprising that some players have opted to accept. Just now, the sport is shaken to its core. And yet I have a feeling that, as in the aftermath of all earthquakes, the dust will eventually settle. The furore about the human rights issues will peter out, and chances are that the PGA Tour will lift its bans, and the market will dictate where the world’s top players compete from week to week. Ultimately, it felt like a sad week for golf.